Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Proust Receives Prix Goncourt in 1919

Today the NYTimes announced that Jonathan Littel, an American ex-pat won the 2006 Prix Goncourt for a 913 page book, Les Bienveillantes.

Proust's 1919 prize swirled in controvery for several reasons. The prize is supposed to go to a young writer, and Proust was 48, and the feeling was that the prize should have gone to a war novel or at least to someone who had served in the Great War. Proust had asthma and was excused from service. What a disaster that would have been!

When I read the article in the Times, I realized that a) I would never win the Prix, b) I would never win any great literary prize, and c) I probably would not win any MWA or Agatha awards either. Won't climb a tall mountain or cross a great desert on a camel. Like Proust, I was never adventurous, except in the mind which is the best and safest place to have adventures.

It was fitting that France awarded Proust his prize. If they had done it sooner, then 1919 would have been open for another writer. Windows of opportunity open and slam shut.


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